Boris - Dear album review

Japan’s sonic explorers hit the full spectrum

Cover art for Boris - Dear album

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Judging by the skulls and bones adorning the cover of Boris’s new album, and how opener D.O.W.N. -Domination Of Waiting Noise- favours the dronequake of the band’s formative years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Japanese experimentalists have settled solely on metallic emissions for their latest and umpteenth album after a quarter-century of musical deviations. You’d only be partly correct, though. As has often been the case with this wonderfully eclectic band over the last 25 years, Dear has many strings to its bow besides heavy amplifier worship. Apparently this LP originally began as a “potential farewell note” to their fans, so it’s not surprising to find Boris sounding quite sentimental here, as though they’ve taken stock of their prodigious output and used their entire spectrum of styles. The clattering doom of DEADSONG and The Power find the thunder trio once again channelling the reverberating tumult of Melvins, albeit with a more evil, Khanate-esque lurch. Absolutego, named after their debut, delivers the Sabbathian swing and garage rock cool of their Heavy Rocks/Pink days, acting as a timely change of pace. Beyond’s somnambulantbackbeat and guitar hero Wata’s whispered coos soothe early on as their Beatles influence, explored on Smile, pairs with dreampop guitars and washes of crashing cymbals.

Sonically, Dear is as organic and lively sounding as any Boris album, the analogue recording proving as much a part of their presentation as their appetite for unexpected collaborations. The directness of the production heightens the tension of the title track, which uses horror-soundtrack disquiet to increase the terror when throttling riffs rev and recoil unexpectedly. As dynamic as these songs are, however, the highpoint is Distopia -Vanishing Point-. The honeyed shoegaze/ post-rock signifiers that took centre stage during their collaboration with Michio Kurihara on Rainbow are combined effortlessly and the song climaxes with a jaw-dropping extended solo section. While Dear might appear overly reflective for a band as creatively restless as Boris, an album that draws from every era of this singular act is actually welcome two and a half decades in – especially as a stylistic compendium to enlighten newcomers.